America’s Best Places for Live Theater

    If you love live theater and you’re looking for great travel destinations in America, you have plenty of options. Below, we highlight some of America’s best cities and towns for live theater right now.

    Branson, Missouri

    Branson might not be the first place you think about when it comes to a theater destination, but in reality, it’s dubbed the live entertainment capital of the world.

    Branson has a huge range of live shows with talented performers heading them up.

    There are more than 100 shows in the tourist destination, and live theater has been a part of why people go there and have for decades.

    You can find plenty of family-friendly shows, comedy, dinner shows, and boat shows.

    Every year more than seven and a half million tourists head to this small town with only around 11,000 permanent residents.

    The shows take place in more than 50 theaters, and it’s the 16th most popular vacation spot in all of the U.S.

    Some of the most popular shows in Branson include Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers and The Haygoods.

    The Famous Baldknobbers featuring the Mabes, have been performing for audiences for more than 50 years, long before Branson was on the map as a key tourist destination. Initially, the Mabe Family went to the banks of Lake Taneycomo to perform for fishermen visiting, and now their show is one of the top sellers.

    The Haygoods is another long-running show with a set of starring siblings. The Haygoods include musical performances and also special effects, plus they play more than twenty instruments between them.

    New York, New York

    It’s difficult to mention theater cities in America without talking about New York City.

    However, what many people realize is that some of the best theater in the city is off-Broadway.

    One of the top shows playing now is Company, from director Marianne Elliott, of Angels in America. Company is a reimagined version of one of Stephen Sondheim’s beloved works. The protagonist in the story is going through an existential crisis, and the action surrounds her 35th birthday.

    Hadestown comes from a concept that a singer-songwriter came up with back in 2010. It brings together jazz and folk traditions to tell the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, who get involved with the gods of the underworld. The story also brings in current issues.

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Las Vegas perhaps doesn’t get enough appreciation for its theater scene, which is fantastic. The shows are true spectacles in Sin City.

    Along with the shows that operate year-round, many of the top musical artists also do concerts and residencies in Vegas. For example, Katy Perry will have a residency at Resorts World this year that’s getting a lot of attention.

    Some of the favorite shows in Vegas, according to visitors include:

    • Mystere—This show is at Treasure Island and is surprisingly family-friendly if that’s what you’re looking for. Mystere is the longest-running Cirque show on the Strip and also the first one. Mystere is fun, vibrant, and lively. There’s a sense of whimsical silliness, and it’s like you’re at a funhouse with some amazing acrobatics, of course.
    • Absinthe—This show is at Caesar’s Palace, and it’s been there for ten years. Absinthe was a trailblazer as far as live entertainment in Las Vegas. It combined the elements of flashy productions and talented aerialists with more adult-oriented themes and some comedy.
    • Michael Jackson One—At Mandalay Bay, this is a distinctive Cirque show that feels different from the others you may have seen. One features a lot of multimedia effects paired with the physical feats of the performers.
    • Atomic Saloon Show—The Atomic Saloon Show comes from the creators of Absinthe and Opium, at The Venetian. The Atomic Saloon Show features a Wild West theme.
    • The Beatles Love—This show isn’t just for diehard Beatles fans. It’s a great show that does feature the music of the iconic band, but so much more.

    Atlanta, Georgia

    Atlanta is known for fostering some of the country’s best up-and-coming talent in playwriting and live theater.

    The Fox Theater is one of Atlanta’s most well-known venues for live shows. The Fox Theatre is right on Peachtree Street downtown, and it has a long history dating back to 1929. It opened on Christmas Day originally as a movie theater. Now, it’s known worldwide as being one of the top live theater venues for Broadway tours, stand-up comedy, concerts, and more.

    The Alliance Theatre has produced runs of shows like The Color Purple, Aida, and Come Fly Away. They have a family series, and the Kathy and Ken Bernhardt Theatre for the Very Young, where they offer spaces for kids and teens to enjoy a love for theater.

    True Colors Theatre Company is operated by Kenny Leon, who is a Tony-award-winning director who’s worked with Alicia Keys, Angela Bassett, and Samuel L. Jackson.

    Chicago, Illinois

    Finally, Chicago’s theatre scene has launched the careers of people like John Malkovich and Tina Fey. The Theater District in the city is flourishing and is home to more than 250 theatres. There are five Tony Award-winning theatre companies calling the city home as well.

    The Loops is the site of the theatre district, putting it in the heart of this bustling city.

    There are three Broadway In Chicago theatres in the District, which are the CIBC Theatre, the James M. Netherlander Theatre, and the Cadillac Palace Theatre.

    Also in the Theatre District is the Goodman Theatre, which is the oldest and largest not-for-profit venue of its type in Chicago. It’s a Tony award winner, producing contemporary and classic works.

    The Auditorium Theatre is a National Historic Landmark that’s the resident home of The Joffrey Ballet.

    Many Chicago neighborhoods are also home to amazing independent theatres, like the Steppenwolf in Lincoln Park. The Steppenwolf launched the careers of Nick Offerman, Joan Allen, and Gary Sinise, among others.

    The Lookingglass Theatre was co-founded by David Schwimmer and is in the Water Tower Water Works Building on Michigan Avenue.

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